The British government has been accused of turning a blind eye to evidence that a Russian whistleblower was assassinated in the UK on Vladimir Putin’s direct order. 

Financier Alexander Perepilichnyy uncovered a $230 million (£150 million) Russian money-laundering operation before he collapsed near his home in Weybridge, Surrey, in 2012.

Surrey Police told an inquest into the cause of his death there was no evidence of “third party involvement or foul play”, but a report published by BuzzFeed News revealed US, French and UK officials were increasingly concerned his death had not been properly investigated. 

“We strongly believe that Perepilichnyy was assassinated on direct orders from Putin or people close to him,” a senior US intelligence official told the site. 

Former head of Britain’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office Chris Phillips said he believed Mr Perepilichnyy had been assassinated. “There’s no way it wasn’t a hit. It’s ridiculous,” he said. 

British intelligence agencies were reportedly handed information that connected Mr Perepilichnyy’s death to the Kremlin, but MI6 officers who corroborated that view were reportedly silenced to avoid jeopardising diplomatic relations with the country. 

One US intelligence official said: “Their efforts to publicly declare that Perepilichnyy was assassinated on British soil had deeper political implications.”

News of Mr Perepilichnyy’s death was first reported by The Independent in 2012, sparking interest in the mysterious case from around the world.

Mr Perepilichnyy had reportedly been consistently threatened since he revealed the scandal in 2010. The 44-year-old had taken out £3.5 million worth of life insurance and applied for another £5 million worth of policies before his death, the inquest heard.

The married father-of-two travelled to Paris days before his death to meet 22-year-old Ukrainian Elmira Medynska.

However authorities never interviewed her, and her testimony of his last two days will not be heard at the inquest. 

Speaking of his death, Ms Medynska told BuzzFeed: “It happens to Russian people in London. He gave Russian information to Swiss and you can be killed for that.”

French police identified Ms Medynska, who posts to Instagram under the handle @elmiramedins, as a ‘very important’ person in their inquiries

Mr Perepilichnyy’s life insurance company Legal and General ordered a new toxicology report after Surrey Police announced a “full and detailed range of toxicology tests” had found nothing suspicious. The fresh testing found traces of a deadly plant poison in his stomach called gelsemium, as reported by The Independent in 2015. The discovery pushed French authorities to open a case into his suspected organised assassination. They have claimed British authorities have repeatedly stonewalled their investigative efforts. 

However, Mr Perepilichnyy’s wife Tatiana Perepilichnyy maintains that her husband died of natural causes and denied claims he had ever received threats during their 20-year marriage. 

Her lawyer said she believed “the tragic death of her husband has been overshadowed by stereotypes towards successful Russian businesspeople.”

The inquest is not expected to hear evidence from French officials and a series of documents have been sealed by the UK Government on national security grounds after home secretary Amber Rudd argued “there would be real and significant damage to national security from disclosure” and obtained a High Court secrecy order last November. 

The inquest, which began last week headed by an independent coroner, will examine whether he was poisoned or died of natural causes.

The Home Office told The Independent it does not comment on ongoing legal proceedings. 

THE BIG danger to the Australian beef sector in terms of fallout from the Brazilian corruption scandal involving global meatpacker JBS will be what unfolds in the United States, local industry observers say.

International news agencies are reporting the controlling shareholder of JBS, J&F Investimentos, has agreed to pay a fine in the billions of dollars linked to a political bribery scandal in Brazil, with payments due to start in December.

J&F’s owners, Joesley and Wesley Batista, have resigned from their board positions and Reuters is reporting Joesley Batista has signed a plea agreement with prosecutors acknowledging he distributed payments to as many as 2000 politicians over ten years.

JBS Australia, the largest meat processor in Australia with plants and feedlots in five states,  is a wholly owned subsidiary of JBS internationally.

JBS Australia said the issues were Brazillian-specific and related to the family owned J&F company with no implication for JBS Australia.

Australian analysts and industry leaders say there are big questions around whether the Brazilian Government would continue to insist on repayments of the fine.

However, claims the Batista brothers have been attempting to influence government departments in the United States were now starting to emerge, said longtime industry leader and cattleman John Carter.

“The threat for the Australian section of the company is if New York shareholders take legal action or the US government acts,” he said.

“If charges are proven in the US, you can be sure their government will uphold fines.”

JBS was intending to float on the US stock exchange this year but that move seems to have been put on hold.

Already, JBS has sold Argentine assets to their biggest competitor.

However, international media has published a statement from the company saying no core assets at JBS USA, or any other part of the world, are candidates for sale.

Australian beef market commentators said while a fine of this magnitude was significant, unless there were global rationalisations within the company to belt tighten, the fallout in Australia could well be zero.

There is widespread acknowledgment JBS Australia has tended to run a relatively independent operation.

If JBS Australia did downscale significantly, all agree it could have a big impact on the local cattle market given the company’s processing muscle.

JBS and Teys account for around 35 per cent of the market share so the downscale of one would have an effect on demand in the short term and be a catalyst for lower prices, particularly for finished lines, one market watcher said.

“There would be a lag until others could step up to fill the void in demand but into the medium and longer term the situation would balance out,” he said.

A situation in which Teys attempted to obtain more than 50pc of Australia’s processing capacity would certainly test the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Mr Carter said.

He claimed most in the beef industry saw the corruption claims coming.

“It didn’t make sense that they went from owning one butcher shop to being the biggest beef  manufacturing business in the world in just 12 years,” he said.

“They were buying businesses, for big money, that we all knew were uneconomical.”

Beef marketing experts did not think the scandal would impact the local JBS name.

JBS Australia should be able to leverage off the good reputation of the Australian beef product and the strong local corporate governance that agricultural firms here are able to enjoy in an international setting, they said.

The story JBS fallout will depend on what unfolds in US first appeared on Farm Online.